Everyone thinks they have a novel in them. To be fair, they are probably right. However, only a handful ever tried to get the story out from their head and into cold hard writing, and even fewer make it beyond the first chapter.
Writing is a passion for many that begins in childhood, and life gets in the way, and the burning desire to write diminishes to nothing but an ember.
Fast forward to decades from now, and the monotony and stress of a nine-to- five job of sitting behind a desk and staring at a laptop screen all day answering emails and number crunching has made the pull towards writing all the stronger once again.
Writing for a living is something that many aspire to yet very few people achieve. The regular wage of a full-time job, promotion prospects and job security make it difficult to venture into the world of writing to earn a living. However, if you’re keen to explore writing as a career, you first need to think about how to earn money from writing.
Not all writers can be J. K. Rowling and earn untold billions from a good hook and film rights. Becoming an author is one avenue down which you can travel, but there are so many more. Look at how you can flex your literary flair and earn money from your writing talent.
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Types of writing you can try your hand at earning money
Ok, so we’ve touched upon becoming an author. The chances are if you are adamant in going full steam ahead with this ambition, you will need to keep your full-time job for the time being. If you give up your role in the corporate world to dedicate your time to your dystopian sci-fi trilogy, you may be in for a rude awakening when your cash flow stutters and you fall into debt. If your plot, character development and writing style is strong, you will need to commit to writing your novel in your spare time. While you might wave goodbye to your social life for six months, the result will be worth it.
Self publishing is an option although it remains the least lucrative way of earning money from your talents. Instead, look for a literary agent who will read your first novel, make edits, give you time to tweak your book and then approach publishing houses to enable your finished hardback to be on the shelves down at your local bookstore. While the chances of you making millions are slim, you will follow your passion, maybe secure an advance for another novel and enjoy making the move into writing full time.
2. Content writing
Ah, content writing. This is my specialty as a freelance writer so sit back as I explain to you how to make money writing on the web.
Becoming a writer doesn’t mean flexing your literary muscles. Instead, you could slip into the marketing field. While it might not get your creative juices flowing, writing content for websites, blogs and ghostwriting for companies can pay your bills. If you understand SEO and keyword research from your previous jobs, you might get your foot in the door a little quicker than most.
Most marketing campaigns rely on writers to generate content that is readable, relevant, and of the highest quality. You may get the chance to produce product descriptions, generate blog posts for external websites and create social media postings. Finding a tone that matches a brand can be tricky, but succeed at this, and you could help a company or startup to expand their readership and customer base, driving traffic to their website and increasing sales and revenue.
Companies may ask you to produce content for trade shows or off-site at industry specific events. Often, gift fair exhibitors may need top quality writers to produce marketing materials, adverts, witty slogans, and taglines. If you have the gift of the gab, can produce pun-tastic one-liners and enjoy using your wit and charm within your writing, you may find yourself in high demand. As a sideline, you may even write content for comedians and coming up with a joke or two for a greetings card company.
I have been well-entrenched in the world of content writing I’ve met a lot of great writers along the way. Freelance writers like Eden Fried not only works as a freelance writer but also earns money on the side from her blog. Established bloggers like Adam Connell and Ashley Faulkes also help clients with their SEO needs, which goes to show that they are opportunities for writers to diversify their skills and offer them as additional services.
Some of these writers like Minuca Elena, who specializes in expert roundup posts, have found a niche that works for them. As a result, they become well-known for that one writing skill they specialize in.
If you plan on becoming a content writing, figure out what you want to write about and specialize in. It will help you determine the clients you want to attract. By finding out your identity as a content writer, you will become much more profitable.
A copywriter is one of the most sought-after writers by businesses. Their goal is to help business owners make more money by writing laser-focused copy meant to convert their target audience into clients.
Copywriting differs from content writing. The latter aims to inform and educate readers about a specific topic. Copywriters help businesses generate more profit.
There are different copywriters in the market. Some work in advertising and create compelling taglines and one-liners for the marketing materials of their clients. Others work in the online space as they write copy for landing pages or email. The goal of both remain the same: nurture relationships with visitors and make the sale.
The focus on copywriting has always been about quality. You can manage as few copywriting clients as possible as still generate more income than an average content writer could. Copywriting requires a different set of skills compared to content writing. If you’re serious in becoming one, you need to learn psychology and persuasion with your copy. You must get into the head of your target audience so you can write copy that resonates with their needs and wants. It is difficult to create content that your audience will positively respond to but the rewards are great.
On average, almost half of freelance copywriters in the US expect to earn more than $50,000 a year. That’s equivalent to $4.17k a month which is nothing to scoff at.
4. ScriptwritingAs a scriptwriter, you will need to learn how to format your scripts, develop character arcs, and maintain the pace within a piece of drama. Click To Tweet
If you adore movies, love going to the theatre or enjoy watching and analysing sitcoms, you may feel you have a natural flair for writing scripts. If you have the commitment to enrol in an evening class or part-time college course, you can learn scriptwriting.
You will need to learn how to format your script, develop character arcs, and maintain the pace within a piece of drama. Often, people prefer writing scripts for short films and send off showreels to production companies and bypass the whole “picking up a script” process. While narrowed down and a little less common than writing a novel, choosing to develop a script could be one way of using your writing talents.
Scriptwriting may involve writing for a company that wants to produce a radio advert or TV commercial for their brand. It will be your job to sell a product and carve out a niche for the company. If you have marketing experience, this could be an ideal way of making money from your writing. One slogan can identify a brand instantly. If someone was to tell you to taste the rainbow, you might say to them that Skittles aren’t ideal for your diet at the moment. Do you know anything that is finger-lickin’ good? Of course, you do. That is the power of the tagline.
5. Content mills
Although this might be the most mundane way of earning money from your writing prowess, writing for content mills are always on the lookout for people good with words. You may get paid pennies per word, but if you can write top quality stuff at breakneck speed, you could earn a few bucks.
While no one wants to make a career out of content mill writing, it can be a nice sideline while you write a novel or develop a script. Content mills allow you to earn a basic wage while facilitating your ability to dedicate your time to your real passion.
You may write ten articles or blog posts or product descriptions every day, and the work varies. You could be writing five hundred words on the joys of a new style of ball-bearing, another one thousand words on Sri Lanka’s latest five-star hotel and another two thousand words on why outsourcing is often the best strategy for small startups looking to expand. Some days will be boring, other days will be mildly enjoyable but essentially this job will not be forever and will empower you to focus on your real passion for more creative and personal writing.
In fact, I started out my career as a writer for content mills on the side. As mentioned, it’s not a high-paying job, but it’s a good way for me to improve on my craft and harness more experience. I eventually had to leave because I’ve outgrown this type of writing. However, if I had the chance to do it again, I would still write for content mills back in the day and won’t change a damn thing! It’s not always about the money. For me, it’s about developing my skills and making the most of the opportunities to become the writer I am right now. And I’m happy with what I’ve achieved and how much I’m earning right now.
Which types of writing is best for you?There is no step-by-step guide to your success as a writer. You need to do whatever works for you. Don't let people tell you any different. Click To Tweet
Just because you are good at writing doesn’t mean you can make money from it. You need to have a business plan, be able to maintain a cash flow while you are trying to get your writing business off the ground and you need to work through the inevitable periods of a writer’s block. Writing isn’t the most social of professions, and you could go crazy. However, if you adore syntax, love nothing more than experimenting with grammar and cannot get enough of vocabulary, then you should embark on a literary journey and make a living from your passion for writing.
I’ll end this post with an anecdote.
I promoted my post about tips on how to improve your writing. I promoted it by sharing my earnings as a freelance writer throughout the years. While I was starting out, I was earning peanuts which is naturally the case with neophyte writers.
A member from the Facebook group I shared the post on messaged me. He was aghast about the rate I was earning approximately 12 years ago. He said I shouldn’t be charging that rate (I no longer do) and I should charge higher rates (which I am). He even suggested that I should become a journalist instead (thanks, but no thanks).
Judging from his messages, he missed the point why I’m sharing my earnings in a Facebook post to introduce my article. I started out from low-paying jobs but worked my way up the ladder to bag higher-paying jobs. I sought to improve my craft and used my experience as leverage to attract clients that paid much better rates than the ones before. The goal was to never stick to the same income as a freelance writer – it is to find ways on how to become a better writer which leads to better jobs.
I share this because there is no step-by-step guide on how to become a successful writer. You can start by writing for content mills or drinking and smoking your way to the Next Greatest Literary Novel. It will be painful – you probably won’t make enough money to justify your career in the beginning. People will question your life choices.
I’ve had lots of people, even my family, constantly question my freelance career. It sucks, and it made me question myself and who I really am.
However, if there’s one thing you need to know about becoming a writer, you need to have determination. You need to believe yourself in the face of adversity because on one else will. All you have is yourself and your writing skills, and it’s up to you to go against the flow and do the right thing.
Just write. There’s no other way for you to survive and determine your life’s path unless you type or scribble the words in the head. By then, the words will point you to the right direction.